If someone were to ask me what the single, most important trait in life is, I would have to say it is attitude. The Lord knows I’ve had my share of failures and bobbles along the way, so I stand on pretty shaky ground when it comes to talking about achieving great success.

But, one thing I do know for certain is that those who succeed have that “winning” attitude. Such folks embrace life and have a vision for where they’re going that excites them. They’re also confident they can reach their destination and work darn hard to get there.

For the most part, ranchers are some of the best people in the world when it comes to doing whatever it takes to get something done. As an industry, however, we’ve collectively bogged down at times as a consequence of not having a clear vision.

I think that cattlemen today need to be a little less tolerant and more narrow-minded because implementing the same old solutions to increasingly specific problems just doesn’t make sense. There are simply too many viable alternatives out there to stay the course, especially when we know where the same old tactics will lead us.

Recently I was reading an article geared to another industry in which an expert commented that good, creative and strategic thinking isn’t coming from the same places it used to. His point was that the old captains of industry succeeded in a different time and a different place. He contended that change today is being driven by a new breed of industry players created out of the significant change they were seeing.

In a way, our industry organizations have centered around creating messages for the masses (internally and externally). They are shaped by big overriding philosophies and world views. Such organizations typically aren’t flexible enough to create customized solutions for the unique and changing problems that we are seeing, which tend to be very specific. We’re now living in a niches-within-niches world.

This phenomenon applies to both individual operations and markets. Market targets are becoming highly specific. Regardless of who your customer is, he is demanding both substance and style. We can’t afford to simply make continual incremental improvements; we’re living in a world that demands more depth, more tangible value, and a different set of skills.

Tradition is a great thing, but perhaps we could all benefit by opening our minds by actually narrowing our thinking and refusing to embrace the status quo. It may help us to define the type of vision that can both excite and motivate us.